Co-signing on a bail bond in Texas might be the only way your friend or family member can keep themselves out of jail while awaiting trial—but can you afford to co-sign? This is something you should reserve for only your most trusted friends and family members, because if they fail to show up, you could be on the hook for the entire amount of bail.
Here’s what to know before you sign on the dotted line:
- You’ll need to put up money or collateral: Bail bonds are a promise, backed by money or property, that the accused will show up to court. In exchange for the money and promise, the defendant can await trial out of jail. Depending on the crime and its severity, bail can range from a release on personal recognizance (usually for minor crimes) to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In rare, severe and high-profile cases, bail can be set in the millions.
- The accused must show up to all of their court appearances: Your loved one needs to show up to all of their court appearances while they’re out on bail. Judges do not allow defendants to “call in sick” or care that they were stuck in traffic. Anyone who fails to show up to their court appearances is in contempt of court. Their bail can be revoked and the judge can issue a bench warrant to re-arrest the defendant.
- If they fail, you’re on the hook for the full amount: In addition to the accused going back to jail, the bail co-signer is now on the hook for the full amount of bail. You could lose your home, your car or the contents of your bank account, so make sure you really trust the person for whom you’re co-signing.
- You can request stipulations before signing: Not sure that your loved one will take bail seriously? You’re entitled to request stipulations, like getting mental health treatment, attending an anger management program or attending rehab.
- You can request cancellation of the bond: Sometimes, despite our trust and best intentions, the defendant will engage in risky behavior. Rather than wait for them to get sent back to jail, leaving you on the hook for the full amount, you can request that the bail bond be canceled. This will return your money (minus any fees) and the accused will go back to jail to await trial unless someone else is willing to put up the money.
- You can turn in the accused: Finally, you can turn the person in yourself, if you want. For example, if they run away to escape a court date, you can call the police and tell them where they are so they can be taken back to jail.
Co-signing a Texas bail bond is a risky proposition, so you should only do it if you’re sure the person in question is trustworthy. If you have more questions about your personal liability when co-signing, reach out to the team at Brazoria County Bail Bonds today.